bims-mecosi Biomed News
on Membrane contact sites
Issue of 2021‒08‒01
eight papers selected by
Verena Kohler
Stockholm University


  1. Front Physiol. 2021 ;12 707634
      Diabetic cardiomyopathy has been associated with mitochondrial damage. Mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum (ER) contact is an important determinant of mitochondrial function and ER homeostasis. We therefore investigated whether hyperglycemia can damage the mitochondria by increasing their contact with the ER in cardiomyocytes. We found that hyperglycemia induced mitochondria-ER contact in cardiomyocytes, as evidenced by the increased MMM1, MDM34, and BAP31 expressions. Interestingly, the silencing of Mfn2 reduced the cooperation between the mitochondria and the ER in cardiomyocytes. Mfn2 silencing improved cardiomyocyte viability and function under hyperglycemic conditions. Additionally, the silencing of Mfn2 markedly attenuated the release of calcium from the ER to the mitochondria, thereby preserving mitochondrial metabolism in cardiomyocytes under hyperglycemic conditions. Mfn2 silencing reduced mitochondrial reactive oxygen species production, which reduced mitochondria-dependent apoptosis in hyperglycemia-treated cardiomyocytes. Finally, Mfn2 silencing attenuated ER stress in cardiomyocytes subjected to high-glucose stress. These results demonstrate that Mfn2 promotes mitochondria-ER contact in hyperglycemia-treated cardiomyocytes. The silencing of Mfn2 sustained mitochondrial function, suppressed mitochondrial calcium overload, prevented mitochondrial apoptosis, and reduced ER stress, thereby enhancing cardiomyocyte survival under hyperglycemic conditions.
    Keywords:  ER; Mfn2; apoptosis; mitochondria; mitochondria-ER contact
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2021.707634
  2. ASN Neuro. 2021 Jan-Dec;13:13 17590914211028364
      Mitochondrial dysfunction is a well-established pathological event in Parkinson's disease (PD). Proteins misfolding and its impaired cellular clearance due to altered autophagy/mitophagy/pexophagy contribute to PD progression. It has been shown that mitochondria have contact sites with endoplasmic reticulum (ER), peroxisomes and lysosomes that are involved in regulating various physiological processes. In pathological conditions, the crosstalk at the contact sites initiates alterations in intracellular vesicular transport, calcium homeostasis and causes activation of proteases, protein misfolding and impairment of autophagy. Apart from the well-reported molecular changes like mitochondrial dysfunction, impaired autophagy/mitophagy and oxidative stress in PD, here we have summarized the recent scientific reports to provide the mechanistic insights on the altered communications between ER, peroxisomes, and lysosomes at mitochondrial contact sites. Furthermore, the manuscript elaborates on the contributions of mitochondrial contact sites and organelles dysfunction to the pathogenesis of PD and suggests potential therapeutic targets.
    Keywords:  Parkinson’s disease; endoplasmic reticulum; lysosome; mitochondria; mitochondrial contact sites; peroxisome
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1177/17590914211028364
  3. Front Mol Neurosci. 2021 ;14 709390
      Contacts between the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and plasma membrane (PM) contain specialized tethering proteins that bind both ER and PM membranes. In excitable cells, ER-PM contacts play an important role in calcium signaling and transferring lipids. Junctophilins are a conserved family of ER-PM tethering proteins. They are predominantly expressed in muscles and neurons and known to simultaneously bind both ER- and PM-localized ion channels. Since their discovery two decades ago, functional studies using junctophilin-deficient animals have provided a deep understanding of their roles in muscles and neurons, including excitation-contraction coupling, store-operated calcium entry (SOCE), and afterhyperpolarization (AHP). In this review, we highlight key findings from mouse, fly, and worm that support evolutionary conservation of junctophilins.
    Keywords:  ER–PM tethers; RyR channels; calcium channels; jph-1; membrane contact site proteins; muscle excitation; synaptic transmission
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.3389/fnmol.2021.709390
  4. Curr Opin Chem Biol. 2021 Jul 22. pii: S1367-5931(21)00090-9. [Epub ahead of print]65 93-100
      Lipids are highly dynamic molecules that, due to their hydrophobicity, are spatially confined to membrane environments. From these locations, certain privileged lipids serve as signaling molecules. For understanding the biological functions of subcellular pools of signaling lipids, induced proximity tools have been invaluable. These methods involve controlled heterodimerization, by either small-molecule or light triggers, of functional proteins. In the arena of lipid signaling, induced proximity tools can recruit lipid-metabolizing enzymes to manipulate lipid signaling and create artificial tethers between organelle membranes to control lipid trafficking pathways at membrane contact sites. Here, we review recent advances in methodology development and biological application of chemical-induced and light-induced proximity tools for manipulating lipid metabolism, trafficking, and signaling.
    Keywords:  Chemical-induced proximity; Light-induced proximity; Lipid metabolism; Lipid signaling; Lipid trafficking; Membrane contact sites; Optogenetics
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cbpa.2021.06.005
  5. FEBS Lett. 2021 Jul 27.
      The endoplasmic reticulum transmembrane protein vesicle-associated membrane protein-associated protein (VAP) plays a central role in the formation and function of membrane contact sites (MCS) through its interactions with proteins. The major sperm protein (MSP) domain of VAP binds to a variety of sequences which are referred to as FFAT-like motifs. In this study, we investigated the interactions of eight peptides containing FFAT-like motifs with the VAP-A MSP domain (VAP-AMSP ) by solution NMR. Six of eight peptides specifically bound to VAP-A. Furthermore, we found that the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 has an FFAT-like motif which specifically binds to VAP-AMSP as well as other FFAT-like motifs. Our results will contribute to the discovery of new VAP interactors.
    Keywords:  FFAT motif; FFAT-like motif; SARS-CoV-2; VAMP-associated protein; protein-protein interaction; solution NMR
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1002/1873-3468.14166
  6. Cell Biol Toxicol. 2021 Jul 26.
      Mitochondrial-associated endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membranes (MAMs) play a key role in several physiological functions, including calcium ion (Ca2+) transfer and autophagy; however, the molecular mechanism controlling this interaction in cadmium (Cd)-induced neurotoxicity is unknown. This study shows that Cd induces alterations in MAMs and mitochondrial Ca2+ levels in PC12 cells and primary neurons. Ablation or silencing of mitofusin 2 (Mfn2) in PC12 cells or primary neurons blocks the colocalization of ER and mitochondria while reducing the efficiency of mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake. Moreover, Mfn2 defects reduce interactions or colocalization between GRP75 and VDAC1. Interestingly, the enhancement of autophagic protein levels, colocalization of LC3 and Lamp2, and GFP-LC3 puncta induced by Cd decreased in Mfn2-/- or Grp75-/- PC12 cells and Mfn2- or Grp75-silenced primary neurons. Notably, the specific Ca2+ uniporter inhibitor RuR blocked both mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake and autophagy induced by Cd. Finally, this study proves that the mechanism by which IP3R-Grp75-VDAC1 tethers in MAMs is associated with the regulation of autophagy by Mfn2 and involves their role in mediating mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake from ER stores. These results give new evidence into the organelle metabolic process by demonstrating that Ca2+ transport between ER-mitochondria is important in autophagosome formation in Cd-induced neurodegeneration.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; Calcium; Cd; MAMs; PC12 cells; Primary neurons
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10565-021-09623-y
  7. Autophagy. 2021 Jul 27. 1-17
      PROPPINs are conserved PtdIns3P-binding proteins required for autophagosome biogenesis that fold into a characteristic group of seven-bladed beta-propellers. Mutations in WDR45/WIPI4, a human member of this family, lead to BPAN, a rare form of neurodegeneration. We have generated mutants for the two PROPPIN proteins present in the model system Dictyostelium discoideum (Atg18 and Wdr45l) and characterized their function. Lack of Wdr45l greatly impairs autophagy, while Atg18 only causes subtle defects in the maturation of autolysosomes. The strong phenotype of the Wdr45l mutant is strikingly similar to that observed in Dictyostelium cells lacking Vmp1, an ER protein required for omegasome formation. Common phenotypes include impaired growth in axenic medium, lack of aggregation, and local enrichment of PtdIns3P as determined by the use of lipid reporters. In addition, Vmp1 and Wdr45l mutants show a chronically active response to ER stress. For both mutants, this altered PtdIns3P localization can be prevented by the additional mutation of the upstream regulator Atg1, which also leads to recovery of axenic growth and reduction of ER stress. We propose that, in addition to an autophagy defect, local autophagy-associated PtdIns3P accumulation might contribute to the pathogenesis of BPAN by disrupting ER homeostasis. The introduction of BPAN-associated mutations in Dictyostelium Wdr45l reveals the impact of pathogenic residues on the function and localization of the protein.
    Keywords:  Atg18; autophagosome; membrane contact site; omegasome; proppin proteins
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1080/15548627.2021.1953262
  8. Nat Commun. 2021 07 27. 12(1): 4552
      The ability of endolysosomal organelles to move within the cytoplasm is essential for the performance of their functions. Long-range movement involves coupling of the endolysosomes to motor proteins that carry them along microtubule tracks. This movement is influenced by interactions with other organelles, but the mechanisms involved are incompletely understood. Herein we show that the sorting nexin SNX19 tethers endolysosomes to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), decreasing their motility and contributing to their concentration in the perinuclear area of the cell. Tethering depends on two N-terminal transmembrane domains that anchor SNX19 to the ER, and a PX domain that binds to phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate on the endolysosomal membrane. Two other domains named PXA and PXC negatively regulate the interaction of SNX19 with endolysosomes. These studies thus identify a mechanism for controlling the motility and positioning of endolysosomes that involves tethering to the ER by a sorting nexin.
    DOI:  https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24709-1